14 July 2011

Best Things: Food & Wine Academy of Florence

I was so excited when my mom and brother agreed to do a cooking class with me in Florence. I've been to Florence a few times, and always found myself drawn to the Tuscan cuisine (perhaps because there doesn't seem to be a lot of fish?), so thought it would be the perfect place to learn a thing or two. Plus, my friends A & M had taken a class there and raved about it, so, off we went!

We decided on a class at the Food & Wine Academy of Florence, and booked through the Viator website.  You can also book through other sites, but I always like Viator to keep all my tours together in one easy place (and, you can often find coupons, which is always a bonus!).

Biscottis at the Central Market
The class started bright and early with a group meet up in front of the Florencetown offices. We met our chef for the day -- Giovanni -- and his sous chef, who promptly took us over to the Mercado San Lorenzo to buy the supplies for the day. We first stopped off at the Conti shop to taste some olive oil and balsamic vinegar...and grab some goods! (I personally got La Salamoia, a Tuscan grey salt mixture; I now sprinkle it on everything!)  We continued our tour to pick up tomatoes, eggs, fresh cheese, eggplant, bread, and freshly ground meat straight -- all necessities for our upcoming meal. I was already getting excited!

After the market, we were taken to a back alley and a closed stall of some sort...which we soon discovered was actually an old restaurant and our home base for the day. Once inside, Giovanni laid out the menu for the day -- Bruschetta, Eggplant Caprese, fresh pasta with meat sauce, veggie pasta, and tiramisu to top it off. And, as we all spied, sitting upon the counter, WINE!

Our class had about 12 people from all over the world -- the USA, Canada, Britain, Georgia (the country) were all represented -- and everyone got to take a part in the prepping of food. I personally sliced some tomatoes and possibly whipped some eggs, though I am not 100% positive on that one!

We started by making our tiramisu, as it took the longest and also needed to sit for a while to really build the flavor. Once that was done, it was time to start on the pasta itself. My brother did a fine job mixing up the flour and eggs to create a great doughy base. As that was setting for about 10 minutes, we started working on other parts of our meal. This was one thing I really liked -- often when you are in the kitchen, you are called on to multi-task so the food is all ready around the same time; in this class, we learned how to effectively manage all the dishes at once.

Soon it was time to finish off the pasta and sauce, all which took about 10-15 minutes total. This was a totally simple meal, and we were all jonesing to eat it right away! Luckily, they held us over a bit with some vino. Eventually the meal was all done and we were ready to chow down!

Of course, our group ended up being the last ones standing. We helped Giovanni polish off the wine (can't leave a wounded soldier on our watch) and got some details on where to eat that night! While I have seen some reviews complain about the lack of hands on activity, but I thought our class size was perfect, and we all got to contribute (if we wanted). And, most importantly, everything we cooked could be made easily at home. Cooking in Tuscany is one thing I would highly, highly recommend.


Bill said...

Awesome! Making me hungry for some pasta now!

german shepherd puppies said...

How I wish that you can share some recipe of these foods. Photos looks delicious, I couldn’t tell more about the menu.

Unknown said...

I took this class this past June2014 and loved it. Paul was fantastic.